When Jesus Died and Three Days in the Tomb, Part 1
“R” in Louisiana asks:
“In Jesus days, the Passover was on Wednesday. He was crucified and put in the tomb by that night. With that being the start of the 3 days and 3 nights count per the Bible. Why do people today and most of the churches don’t teach on this. We’ll been taught wrong.
Thursday 1d, 2n
Friday 2d, 3n
Saturday 3d out by 6 pm. Mary sees him very early on the first day of the week. Sunday.
Wondering what he was doing in those 3 days and 3 nights.”
Mark Riser – Apologist responds,
That is a good post. I see two questions here, the first being about the date of the crucifixion and the resurrection. The second question seeks to discern what was going on between the death of Jesus and His resurrection. I would like to review and comment on the first question in this article.
The most important factor in attempting to understand when Jesus died on the cross is that all four of the gospel accounts say that He was crucified on the “Day of Preparation” (Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:14,31, 42). If this was a day of preparation, then for what were they preparing? This would have been the signal that the next day was the Sabbath. This explains the haste to break the legs of the two thieves because the Jews did not want to have an executed criminal dying of torture during the Sabbath. It also explains the necessity of preparing the body of Jesus for burial quickly before sundown on that day of preparation. As we well know, the Jewish Sabbath is on Saturday. This made the “Day of Preparation” and Jesus’s crucifixion a Friday or 15 Nisan in the Jewish year 3793 or 33 AD.
From this Scriptural evidence, we can assert that our Lord was crucified on a Friday, 15 Nisan, and was placed in the tomb that afternoon, before the Sabbath. The Sabbath commenced at sundown on Friday and lasted until nightfall on Saturday. Then the first day of the week began. After daylight on Sunday, the women ventured to the tomb and discovered it to be empty.
This gives us three days, from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning that Jesus Christ was in the tomb before His resurrection. Jesus Himself uses the term “three days” to declare that He would die and on the third day rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21). Is this a full 72 hours? It is more likely that this was a Hebrew figure of speech which could refer to all or any part of a three day period.
Have we been taught wrongly? I think not. It is probable that we have not taken properly into account the Jewish system of counting days and attempted to reason through the matter with our system of days in mind.